Northern Stage Educational Program Growth Sparks Purchase Of Building In Downtown White River Junction
Northern Stage has seen tremendous growth in its Education Department over the past three years. With programs that include the expanded BridgeUP: Theater in the Schools, the newly created Boot Camp, which offers professional training and mentorship for students who want to pursue a career in the arts, the Dartmouth Experiential Learning Term, a fully and professionally produced Summer Musical Theater Intensive, season-long Youth Ensemble Studio groups for elementary, middle, and high school students, and adult learning opportunities that have tripled in participation, the company is expanding its footprint to meet the demand for space. Northern Stage has purchased the property at 93 S. Main Street in White River Junction, VT, formerly operated by Don and Wanda Nalette as Twin State Typewriter, which includes office and storage space on the main floor and five residential apartments on the second floor.
The purchase of 93 S. Main Street will open up space in Northern Stage's Administrative & Production Building, located at 76 Gates Street in White River Junction, for the creation of a second rehearsal studio. Educational programs often rehearse concurrently with main stage productions, and an additional rehearsal space has become necessary as both the number of students and the number of programs has increased. Additionally, Northern Stage will use the five residential apartments as housing for seasonal staff and guest artists. Northern Stage is committed to the economic and cultural development of White River Junction and is intentional in its efforts to house more company members in the downtown district.
Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne says, "Theater is a struggling art form in many communities, but it is thriving in the Upper Valley region. Because of the success of our main stage shows, our new works program, and transfers to Off-Broadway and beyond, Northern Stage can provide an unparalleled educational program that connects our students to the highest quality work. We are thrilled with the opportunity to provide more space and resources for the theater lovers and practitioners of tomorrow." Managing Director Eric Bunge adds, "The opportunity - so close to our current facilities - to increase our housing capabilities in addition to adding capacity to meet the growing demands of our educational programs doesn't come along very often. We are so grateful to Wanda and Don for working with Northern Stage to make this possible."
In addition to the building purchase, Northern Stage has formalized the scope of its educational programs in the newly named Department of Education & Artistic Outreach, charged with engaging, educating, and inspiring generations of theater lovers from the Upper Valley and beyond. This department is co-led by Director of Education Eric Love and a new position, Director of Artistic Outreach, held by Amanda Rafuse. Rafuse spent four years as Northern Stage's Director of Development and then accepted a one-year position as the company's first BOLD Associate Director, during which time the need for expanded support for educational and outreach programs became clear. Rafuse states, "We are strategically building on the strength of our current programs and developing new artistic engagement opportunities that we hope will stir our collective imaginations and build an even stronger quality of life here in the Upper Valley."
Northern Stage (northernstage.org) is a regional non-profit LORT-D professional theater company located in White River Junction, VT. Northern Stage actively engages its audiences with world-class productions and extensive educational and outreach programs in its new home, the Barrette Center for the Arts. Founded in 1997, the company has offered more than 150 professional productions of new works, classics, and musicals. Now in its 22nd Season, Northern Stage serves over 50,000 people. Five years ago, the company launched a new play festival that has cultivated five world premiere productions and two Off-Broadway transfers. A robust educational program focuses on professional training in a nurturing and supportive environment for students of all ages. Offerings include student acting ensembles, a summer musical theater intensive, and an expansive theater-in-the-schools residency program. Northern Stage's breadth of programming supports the company's mission to "change lives, one story at a time."